Iris 'Spirit of Memphis'
Common Name: tall bearded reblooming iris
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Iridaceae
Zone: 3 to 10
Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer, Drought


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some part afternoon shade, particularly in hot summer climates. Best with consistent moisture from spring to 6 weeks after flowering ends. Some drought tolerance once established. Best performance occurs in light sandy soils with excellent drainage. With clay soils or in areas of high rainfall, plant rhizomes on slopes (growing end uphill) or in raised beds to promote good drainage and discourage the onset of rhizome rot. Plant rhizomes, depending on location, from late July through October (late July–early September in areas with cold winters or September-October in areas with mild winters). Plant rhizomes 12-20” apart. Plant each rhizome shallowly over a baseball-sized mound of soil with 1/3 of the rhizome above the soil and with the roots horizontally spread to support the plant. Growth comes from the leafy end of the rhizome. If overcrowding occurs over time, lift the clump in late summer (August) with a garden fork, divide and replant. Keep the iris bed free of weeds.

Tall Bearded Reblooming Iris has the same basic cultural requirements as Tall Bearded Iris except the reblooming iris needs applications of fertilizer in both early spring and early July after the first bloom plus consistent applications of water throughout the period of spring to the point where the rebloom has been completed in late summer or fall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tall Bearded Iris is a rhizomatous iris Group whose numerous hybrid cultivars grow to heights above 27.5” tall featuring two or more branches and 7 or more blossoms per stem with flowers spreading to more than 5” wide. Each flower has upright standards and pendant falls. Flowers bloom in June (St. Louis). Most cultivars produce plants significantly taller than 27.5”, with many rising to 38-40” tall. Bearded name comes from the bushy beard which is easily visible in the middle of each fall. Plants typically form clumps in the garden over time. Flowers bloom in an almost unlimited variety of different colors and color combinations. Narrow, linear green leaves are substantially erect.

Tall Bearded Reblooming Irises are bred to rebloom, but rebloom is not guaranteed. Reblooming is dependent upon a large number of factors including geographic location, climatic conditions, soil type, fertility, disease presence, plant maturity and cultural practices. Reblooming irises may not rebloom every year.

Genus named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow.

'Spirit of Memphis' is a reblooming (or remontant) tall bearded iris which typically grows to 35" tall and slowly spreads by rhizomes. Standards and falls are bright yellow with brown haft markings and heavily ruffled. The time and duration of the rebloom may vary considerably by climatic region, however. Sword-shaped, linear leaves. Zurbrigg 1977.


Leaf spot, root rot, bacterial soft rot, crown rot and mosaic viruses may appear. Watch for slug, snails, whiteflies, aphids and thrips. Iris borers can cause significant problems in areas where they are found.

The major insect pest of bearded iris is iris borer. Major disease problems are bacterial soft rot and fungal leaf spot. Good sanitation practices are the most important component of any disease/insect control program: promptly remove and destroy diseased foliage/rhizomes, promptly remove and destroy borer-infected foliage/rhizomes and perform an annual clean-up of all debris and foliage from beds in fall after frost. The most frequent causes of failure to flower or sparse flowering are (1) rhizomes are planted too deep, (2) plants are located in too much shade, (3) plants were given too much fertilizer or (4) plants have become overcrowded and need division.

Garden Uses

Best grouped or massed in sunny areas of perennial beds, borders or foundations.